McLeod, Beaman lead Griz in milt-events at MT Open

MISSOULA — Sophomore Erika McLeod scored 3,079 points in the heptathlon and freshman Jess Beaman totaled 3,394 in the decathlon to lead the Grizzly track and field teams Thursday afternoon on the first day of the Montana Open at blustery Dornblaser Field. Results

McLeod, a Butte High grad, is in second place overall, trailing former Griz all-American Lindsey Hall, who scored 3,169 points. Junior Lakyn Connors is in third place with 2,922 points.

Beaman leads the three-man decathlon. He is trailed in second by redshirt freshman Charlie Bush, who collected 3,234 points.

“I’m excited how today went,” said UM multi-events coach Adam Bork. “All the athletes are in really good position going into the second day to have some really good scores that should have them sitting really good in the conference.”

McLeod, the Big Sky Conference indoor pentathlon champion in February, has 315 more points than she totaled on day one in late March in the heptathletes’ only other multi-events competition of the outdoor season.

She opened with a PR in the 100-meter hurdles, finishing second only to Hall in a time of 14.68, and she closed with a PR in the 200 meters of 24.87, the day’s top time. She was just off her PR of 5-3.25 in the high jump, clearing 5-3, and she went 34-4.25 in the shot put.

“It was good. I got a PR in the hurdles, so you obviously have to be happy with that, and my goal for the 200 was to be under 25, and I was, so overall it was a really good start,” said McLeod, who would approach Montana State’s Danielle Rider’s Big Sky-leading score of 5,225 with solid marks on Friday.

Connors opened with a season-best time of 14.73 in the hurdles and continued to post solid marks the rest of the afternoon. She went 5-4.25 in the high jump, matching Hall and Carroll’s Crystal Schmidt for the day’s top height, 32-10.5 in the shot put and 26.64 in the 200 meters.

Her 2,922 points are a career best for the opening day of a heptathlon.

“Starting the day off with a good hurdles race was important, not only for the points, but it also gets them excited and sets them up for the rest of their events,” said Bork.

“Our only other heptathlon this spring was at Bozeman when it was snowing, so they had some pressure on them to perform and get the points they needed today. I thought they handled it really well. They’re doing great.”

Hall won the hurdles in a time of 13.99, tied for first in the high jump at 5-4.25 and finished second in the shot put at 37-2 and third in the 200 meters in 25.96.

Beaman, who won three of five events on Thursday, is in first place despite competing in the first decathlon of his life. He won the 100 meters (11.72), shot put (43-2) and 400 meters (52.05) and finished second to Bush in the long jump (20-1.75) and high jump (6-0.75).

Beaman competed in two indoor heptathlons last winter.

“You just take it one event at a time and try to have some fun with it,” Beaman said shortly after nearly cracking 52 seconds in the first 400 meters race of his life.

“You’ve got to forgive and forget. You do well or you do poorly in your last event, you’ve got to forget it and move on and keep your eyes on the next one.”

Bush won the long jump at 20-10.75 and high jump at 6-3.25. He went 11.83 in the 100 meters, 34-3 in the shot put and 53.85 in the 400 meters.

Both decathletes are in position to break 6,000 points with another good day on Friday. Only seven athletes in the Big Sky have hit 6,000 points this season, with Sacramento State’s Max Jette atop the list at 6,589.

“Jess and Charlie both had really solid days,” said Bork. “Having only three competitors, it moved fast, which made it easier on their bodies. They should be feeling fresh for day two. They didn’t have any disappointments today, so they should be excited for tomorrow.”

Both multi-events have late-morning starts on Friday. The women close with the long jump, javelin and 800 meters. The decathletes have the 110-meter hurdles, discus, pole vault, javelin and 1,500 meters.

— Montana Sports Information

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